Pass me the plate with a red herring on it

19 10 2010

I read comments with more interest than the news itself! It happens all the time, like this morning when I read about the GMOA statement that male nurses shouldn’t enter labour rooms and that (female) patients should be able to choose. We don’t seem to have moved far from the time Elizabeth Blackwell tried to become a doctor. Many things about this news article bothered me.

If we ask for gender equality/equity  in employment, male nurses must be as acceptable as female doctors, engineers and mechanics. If one kind of trained employee (i.e. nurse) is not acceptable in a specific setting (i.e. labour room) because they are men, then shouldn’t other trained employees who are men also be asked to exit that setting? How is it ok for as many males to enter the labour room as gynaecologists but not even one male to enter the labour room as a nurse (or heaven forbid, an attendant) ?

It appears to me then, that this is what we must do. Let us allow the more privileged male to enter labour rooms but not the less privileged male. And let us not even point out the heterosexist nature of that discussion that has taken place because the next thing we know, the GMOA will want every nurse – male or female – to report on their sexual behaviour.

And above all, let us not encourage or demand professional behaviour or better systems in place to prevent abuse of patients in case we lose sight of that lovely red herring called ‘women’s dignity’.





One third of me is an activist

9 05 2010

One of the things that emotional upheavals bring to my life is obsessive introspection. It makes me look at the run-up to the whirlpool that happened. It makes me look at my actions and it makes me try to make sense of who I am. I didn’t think of myself as an activist until I woke up one day and heard that what I was doing was called activism. I had worked with other groups with a passion for a cause but they had not called themselves activists. Was there such a thing as a professional activist?

I had no issues though. The experience was the same. There is a group of people. They espouse a certain cause. With passion. They live by the principles it entails. I was familiar with this scenario. I had been brought up on the exploits of revolutionaries and too many red shirts around the house. I knew what was expected. Heck, I expected it of others. What is it that working on rights entails that other ‘professions’ don’t have to deal with?

To look for this difference I had to think of myself in different professions: policewoman, accountant, software engineer, data analyst, graphic designer. Why does that FEEL different? If you ignore someone’s intention of suicide, can you tell people you work to prevent suicide? Can you fight for child rights and ignore the 14 year old servant in your mother’s house?  Look the other way and you compromise your principles. And ethics. And values. When you work for a cause, you give your life over.

Activists who think of it as a job? Sounds odd.